02/06/2020 6:06 PM IST

Kerala Student Dies By Suicide, Allegedly Because She Couldn't Attend Online Classes

The girl’s father, a daily wage labourer, has not had a job for over two months during the lockdown, according to reports.

Sivaram V / Reuters
Representative image. 

On Monday, as thousands of students in Kerala began attending virtual classes, a 14-year-old girl died by suicide in Malappuram district, allegedly over not having access to these online classes.  

The girl’s father, a daily wage labourer, told NDTV that they have a television at home, but it hasn’t been working. “She told me it needed to be repaired but I couldn’t get it done,” he said. 

Her father did not have a job for over two months during the lockdown, The Hindu reported.  

A senior police official told NDTV that the family was financially strained and the girl was worried she would not be able to study further, or that her studies would be affected. The official added that initial reports suggest she was upset about not having access to the TV or online classes, the report said. 

A suicide note that said “I am leaving” was also found, according to The News Minute. 

Kerala’s education minister C. Raveendranath has sought a report from the district education officer on the incident. 

ALSO READ: Kerala Govt’s Education Plan For Students With No TV, Internet Or Smartphone

Aneesh Kumar K., the student’s eighth standard class teacher, told The News Minute that the government has instructed teachers to reach out to students who may not have TV or internet at home. He said he had spoken to the student and told her that alternative arrangements would be made. 

The school, The News Minute added, was planning to make virtual classes accessible to students using a projector. The teacher said they had collected details from all students who don’t have access to smartphones or internet and had handed over details to district level officers.

The Congress-affiliated Kerala Students Union leaders, The Hindu added, plan to launch an agitation in front of the Deputy Director of Education (DDE) office at Malappuram. Their demand will be that online classes in the state be stopped until the facility was available to all students.

DDE K.S. Kusumam said 64,000 out of the eight lakh students in Malappuram do not have facilities for online classes at present, the report added. 

At least 45 lakh students in Kerala attended the virtual classes organised by the state education department on Monday. Called ‘First Bell’, these sessions are telecast through VICTERS Channel, under the State General Education Department. 

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had on Monday evening announced that Neighbourhood Study Centres will be set up for students who don’t have access to a television, smartphone or internet. These centres will be provided TVs at subsided cost, he had added.

“We have entrusted the class teachers and school headmasters or principals to make sure that students have access to a television or a smart phone or a computer, and Internet for the classes. If not, they should find an alternative for the students to attend the online classes either in real time or later,” Director of Public Instruction (DPI) K Jeevan Babu had said.

If you or someone you know needs help, mail or dial 022-25521111 (Monday-Saturday, 8am to 10pm) to reach iCall, a psychosocial helpline set up by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS).

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